Highland Woodworking
Tool Review: Morakniv Wooden Spoon Carving Set
By Jeff Fleisher

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I started my career as a woodworker in the early 1990's carving figures-in-the-round (caricatures), relief carving and chip carving. I never had an opportunity to carve a spoon. Therefore, I was pretty excited to try out the Morakniv Wooden Spoon Carving Set. So, you can take my comments in this review as coming from someone who has done a lot of carving but who has never carved a spoon.

The Morakniv company's roots started back in 1891 in Sweden. They produce a wide variety of wood carving knives made using carbon steel, stainless steel and laminated steel. The Spoon Carving Set includes the Morakniv 120 straight carving knife and the 164 hook knife.

The straight carving knife is very much a typical carving knife shape. You will use it to define overall shapes and then refine them into a finished carving. The curved hook knife is used to carve shallow curved shapes. This is ideal for spoons, small bowls or any carving that requires a shallow curved surface.

The 120 straight knife is made using laminated steel and measures 9/16" wide and 2-3/8" long. The overall length of the knife is 6-5/8". The knife is very comfortable to hold and the wide part of the blade provides a lot of support to rough cut a significant amount of wood pretty quickly. The blade then tapers down to a narrow tip that can easily be used to add detail to the carving. I like the plastic scabbard because the handle fits snugly into the upper portion and the blade is well protected. Even though the scabbard is made of plastic the knife was not at all loose and did not fall out when held upside-down.

The curved blade on the hook knife has a 1/2" interior radius and has a single bevel along one edge. The blade is 2" long and is made of stainless steel. The overall length of the hook knife is 6-1/4". Note that this blade is configured for right-handed use only. Unfortunately a left-handed version is not currently available from Morakniv. I wish that the spoon knife came with a scabbard or some type of case to protect it, and you, when not in use. It is a pretty scary looking blade and I imagine you could easily cut yourself with it just laying on your workbench.

Both knives have oiled birch handles and feel very comfortable in your hand.

So, how do they work in practice? I found a scrap of ash wood in my shop and gave them a try. I started out by sketching a 'spoon' shape and cutting it out on the bandsaw.

Once I had the top face cut out I drew a side view sketch onto the wood as well. These are just rough guidelines and will really be defined once I start carving.

I cut out the top profile on the bandsaw as well. This eliminated a lot of wood that wouldn't have to be carved away. I left the bottom flat so that I could clamp the blank onto my bench.

Now to get started carving! I wasn't sure about starting with the spoon hook knife on the flat surface of the bowl of the spoon so I used a carving gouge to get a small shallow 'well' started. Once I had this shallow surface started I could then use the hook knife to really carve out and profile the spoon bowl interior.

The hook knife was pretty sharp right out of the package and was making reasonable shavings even in this piece of ash. I used a slip stone to clean up the edge and a leather strop to polish the edge.

I clamped the spoon in a vise on my bench rather than hold the spoon blank in one hand and free-hand carve with the other. I was a little nervous holding the wood in my left hand while carving with the curved-blade in my right hand. With the spoon blank clamped in place I could get some nice leverage and easily carve across the grain. You could slide along the curved edge and feel the knife edge grip the wood fibers and slice the wood as shown. It is almost like you are scooping the wood out of the bowl. I was able to carve more with the grain by using a 'scraping' motion to clean up the knife marks and get rid of all the facets.

The hook knife handled really well and I had a lot of control of the knife edge as it cut through the wood.

Once I had an interior bowl shape I turned to the straight knife to refine the shape of the handle and the transition from the bowl into the handle. This is really an exercise in understanding grain direction! If you really want to enhance your skills when using a woodworking chisel, spend some time carving using a knife and carving gouges to really understand how to carve with the grain. Here is what the side profile of the spoon looks like right off of the bandsaw:

The straight knife was very comfortable to use and I was easily able to rough shape the exterior of the spoon. Since you always want to carve 'down-hill' I would carve a little then turn the spoon around and carve some more. I could use the wider part of the knife to take long controlled strokes and then slide down closer to the tip and take small, short stokes to slide over grain transitions and to get into some of the interior curves. Here is a roughed-out shape for the exterior of the spoon:

Since this was a proof-of-concept I won't bore you with taking this all the way to a finished spoon! I was rather pleased with my first attempt at carving a spoon and the two knives included in this kit were ideal for doing the job. The hook knife created a nicely contoured bowl shape and left a surface that will require minimal sanding. The straight knife handled very nicely as well and I could get large defining cuts and small detail cuts from the same knife. If you are looking for a 'stocking stuffer' for yourself or a friend this holiday season, you should definitely consider the Morakniv Wooden Spoon Carving Set.

Click here to purchase your own Morakniv Wooden Spoon Carving Set from Highland Woodworking.

Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at furnmkr@gmail.com

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